Yellow Chicken House

Chicken Keeping – The good, the bad and the egg-ly!

Two’s company, three’s a bloodbath

on June 9, 2013

*Spoiler alert – the clue is in the title. Things were about to get nasty. Cannibalistic to be precise…

After introducing my girls into their new home on day one, I quickly began to notice a few sporadic pecks towards the warren from the calder ranger. The speckledy seemed oblivious to this mild aggression and was certainly not contributing. I had read a little about the pecking order and had prepared myself for some initial scuffles while the order was supposedly established. No problem, I thought. Things will settle down by the morning, and I closed the pop hole to the Eglu enclosing my girls ‘safely’ inside for the night whilst mentally telling myself it would all be fine.

Morning came and I groggily made my way down the garden and opened the door, allowing the girls to spill out. And then I saw the blood….smeared over the cheerful yellow walls of the chicken house. The warren was bleeding from her head. Before I had chance to put two and two together (because I’m a little slow to get started in the mornings) the calder ranger began savagely pecking the warren in what appeared to be a totally unprovoked attack. The warren repeatedly tried to run from the onslaught of pecks but blindly crashed from one side of the run to the other. Her high-pitched squeaks and squeaks from each peck cut through me so I removed her from the run and just held her for what must have been 15-20 minutes. I knew i would have to put her back in the run, not knowing what else to do. As much as I enjoyed holding and stroking the bird, I was still wearing my furry leopard print dressing gown and pink Pom Pom slippers and thought it might be worth getting dressed before the neighbours started to talk.
I re-introduced the warren to the run and, for any experienced chicken keepers who may read this, if that was right or wrong, it seemed like the best thing to do at the time. Within a couple of minutes, the calder ranger resumed her bullying. Unable to watch the ‘pecking order’ in progress, I went back into the house and tried to reassure myself that things would settle down.

By the afternoon, there had been no improvement and I was frantically googling for an answer. I looked through the window and happened to catch sight of a particularly nasty peck to the warren’s face and began to panic. This was not my dream. I had imagined a cross between The Good Life and a Disney movie where cute, fluffy creatures would cluck happily around my feet in the garden as I skipped to the hen house to collect my eggs in a wicker basket, at one with nature and rejoicing in the joys of the countryside. Instead, I was witnessing a side of nature that I prefer to imagine does not exist.

In a state of worry and desperation, I called John at Camddwr Poultry and apologetically asked him if he could advise me on how much pecking is normal in the pecking order establishment. John quickly reassured me that what I was seeing was not normal and advised me to separate the calder ranger from the flock. I breathed a sigh of relief when he offered to swap it for a different hen. The calder ranger was deposited into the cat carrier and taken back to Bronnant.

Here is the psycho bird looking like butter wouldn’t melt…

Cannibalistic chicken,

Don’t be fooled by her cute appearance….

I exchanged her for another warren and John was kind enough to give me some iodine to put onto the injured warren’s head. I learned that the redness of blood can be irresistible to chickens and the iodine would take away the redness and help to prevent any further pecking.

We’ve all heard about the link between the fearsome Tyrannasaurus Rex and the chicken, right?
Apparently, the dinosaur is closely related to the legendary dinosaur in it’s molecular build up. After witnessing the viciousness and behaviour between my little flock over a single weekend, I can believe this.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13772-t-rex-kinship-with-chickens-confirmed.html#.UeW-s8u9KK0

Hopefully my new flock will not try to kill each other. My enthusiasm may have been dampened by the experience so far but my new girls look happy so I won’t give up on the yellow chicken house just yet…

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